Every April, ESPN's Bill Barnwell puts together a mock draft consisting entirely of trades. He knows they aren't going to happen, but tries to make them fairly even for both sides so the article is fun and interesting.
Last year, he had three trades involving the Vikings, including a three-team blockbuster involving Trent Williams, Riley Reiff, Anthony Harris, and Desmond King II. There was another one where Curtis Samuel wound up in Minnesota. It was outlandish and awesome to read.
So when Barnwell posted the 2021 version on Thursday, I was quite curious to see what he had drummed up for the Vikings this time around. Then I scrolled down and saw something that shocked me, even by the wacky standards of this annual piece of content.
Trade Proposal No. 1: Danielle Hunter to the Cowboys
- Cowboys get: 1-14, Danielle Hunter
- Vikings get: 1-10, 2-44, 4-115
The Vikings give up Hunter — a 26-year-old star pass rusher who was the youngest player in NFL history to 50 career sacks and is arguably the best player on their roster — to move up four spots in the first round and add a second and a fourth?
Here's Barnwell's explanation:
By the [Jimmy] Johnson [draft value] chart, this deal would value Hunter as roughly equivalent to the 25th pick in a typical draft; given that he's coming off neck surgery and is due for a meaningful raise, that's probably close to fair value. The Vikings would be moving up to grab [Rashawn] Slater, who would step in as their left tackle after they cut Riley Reiff. The Giants (No. 11) and Chargers (No. 13) would both be plausible candidates to take Slater ahead of Minnesota, who would then have to address its holes on the edge later in the draft. The second-rounder it gets from the Cowboys would help make up for the second-rounder it shipped off to the Jaguars as part of the ill-fated deal for Yannick Ngakoue last year.
I understand the points about Hunter coming off neck surgery and reportedly being unhappy with his current contract. Even so, I can't imagine there's a single Vikings fans out there who would be interested in this deal. Even if it meant they got Slater — a player who I love — and added an edge rusher like Joseph Ossai or Joe Tryon in the second round, this deal makes them significantly worse.
The only way this move would make any kind of sense is if Hunter wants to be traded, and there have been no indications that that's the case. Yes, he wants and deserves a raise, but the Vikings will be glad to give that to him once they're confident he is the same player he was prior to the neck surgery.
The Vikings need to add to their defensive end room this offseason, not take their superstar away. Even with the injury and contract stuff, Hunter is way too good for the Vikings to let him go anywhere else.
Trade Proposal No. 2: Vikings trade down with Steelers
- Vikings get: 1-24, 2022 first-round pick
- Steelers get: 1-14, 2022 fourth-round pick
Here's one I can get behind. The Vikings move down ten spots in this year's draft and add a first-rounder next year in exchange for a fourth. That's excellent value from a long-term perspective.
If you want what the Patriots might be having, this is your last chance to get ahead of New England at No. 15. In some scenarios, that could be for a linebacker such as Micah Parsons or Tulsa's Zaven Collins. Here, though, it would be in a world in which one of the five first-round quarterbacks is still left on the board. The Vikings aren't taking a quarterback, and they'll be able to address their defensive depth and tackle concerns later in the first round. The Steelers have plenty of needs elsewhere on their roster, which is why I think they probably would package their 2022 first-rounder as opposed to trying to use their second-round pick. This would be a move up to grab a quarterback such as Trey Lance if he's still on the board. With Ben Roethlisberger entering what appears to be the final year of his career, the future is totally uncertain in Pittsburgh. Getting their quarterback now gets the Steelers ready for 2022 and hedges their chances if Roethlisberger isn't able to play at a high level in 2021.
The Vikings might prefer to get the Steelers' second-rounder this year (No. 55 overall) instead of their first next year, because of the pressure on Minnesota to have a successful 2021. But if they're patient, landing a second 2022 first could work out excellently.
At 24, the Vikings would still be able to land an impact player. Alijah Vera-Tucker or Jaelan Phillips could slide, and some other names I like in that range are Teven Jenkins, Zaven Collins, Greg Newsome II, Rashod Bateman, and Jayson Oweh. For thoughts on all of those players and many more, check out this story: 25 Players the Vikings Could Conceivably Draft in the First Round, Sorted into Tiers.
Then they'd have two firsts next year to continue adding talent. Sign me up.
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